aging parents

When is a granddog not really a granddog? When it's the dog (or other pet) of a senior parent in your Sandwich Generation family, requiring care when the senior parent is ill – at home or in the hospital. Since they require my care, I just call them all my granddogs. 🙂

The cute little dogs love to be near their elderly owners but may be too exuberant, especially if it is a younger pup. And lest you think most seniors will only have older pups, not so. One of my dear senior friends lost her beloved dog a year or so ago. Recently, an opportunity came up for a new dog – a puppy – and she grabbed it. They're doing fine right now, but what if she were to get ill? 

I was helping a younger family member recently with her puppy, as she recuperated from a nasty flu bug. For a few days, she was so weak it was very difficult for her to hold her sweet, enthusiastic puppy. He is very wonderfully crate-trained in his roomy, yet cozy dog crate from PetSmart…

Adjustable dog crates and exercise pens are great tools for the Sandwich Generation caring for elderly parents who have a granddog

…but we wanted to keep that separate from a play area for her puppy. Together, we came up with some good solutions that I realized could help our aging parents as well. 

1. Dog / baby gates for the home. This gave her puppy the freedom to move around the house but it also gave us the ability to limit his freedom to protect her. Her dog is growing though, so we discovered that there are dog gates and extra TALL dog gates. Very handy, I must say. PetSmart and Walmart were great resources – both in the pet section and in the baby section. 🙂

Tall gate is good for granddog and grandkids

If we had needed to be able to go through that door opening more easily, we could have bought a walk-through pet gate that has a "door" that swings open. Check it carefully, though, if you prefer that type. Some are easier to open than others. That's especially important when caring for elderly parents! If I have a hard time opening a gate, i know my senior parents will have a harder time!

This tall granddog and grandkid gate has a door that opens so you can get through it more easily

2. Dog exercise pens. Even with the gates up, the puppy was still moping a bit for his new owner, and the new owner was moping for her puppy. But when she would lay on the couch, the exuberant puppy would bound over and try to jump on his "mommy" or want to "teethe" on her. Of course, she is working carefully to train the pup NOT to do these actions, but when you are sick, and granddog is young, that can be a bit difficult. For the time being, we opted for an extra help in the situation.

We found a flexible and tall dog exercise pen with a door that her sweet pup can play in safely. Then we placed it right next to her on the couch so she can pet her dog without the pup jumping all over her. It's not a perfect solution. He is a puppy and he is still in the teething stage, but it has helped quite a bit. He doesn't love it the way he does his crate but he is doing better in it every day.

 Dog exercise pens - such as this dog exercise pen with door - are especially useful when we are caring for elderly parents who are not steady on their feet as well as in bad weather climates

For those of us who are dealing with both granddogs AND very young grandkids, we would probably prefer something like this gate – a Superyard XT.

A granny nanny tip is to use a gate like the superyard xt for the small grandkids and it works great for a granddog too

It works equally well for a cute granddog OR an adorable young grandchild. It doesn't have the door that opens but it's very lightweight, also quite flexible, and can even be used to block off areas by separating the ends to make it straight. We've used it in the house, out of the house, and even in front of a garden to block off a dangerous area from the grandkiddies. In fact, I noticed today that we may have to get one for the granddog for the same reason – as there are electric wires too easily accessible to a pup who is in the chewing stage! Very handy, and you can even buy extensions to make it slightly larger – or just buy two and make it double large. 

Both the dog / baby gates for the home and the dog exercise pens were a big help for the immediate illness AND have gone on to be a big help in other situations. We especially appreciate the fact that either of the dog exercise pen options can be easily configured in a wide variety of shapes or folded up to pop into the back of a car or truck and take with you when traveling.

One nice thing about the Sandwich Generation is that many of the solutions to one set of issues, such as granny nanny tools like the gate Superyard XT, come in quite handy for other needs including babysitting a granddog at your own home if an elderly parent has to be hospitalized. 🙂

Fun in the hot summer sun can lead to dehydration in the elderly and young children in the Sandwich Generation

Doesn't that look cool and refreshing for a hot summer day! Summer time is full of fun moments like this. Unfortunately problems can also lurk in the sweet heat.  Dehydration in the elderly was a topic on Twitter recently when I tweeted an article by in-law suite.com, Elderly Dehydration: Signs, Symptoms, and PreventionWith summer heat already upon many of us, it seemed like the perfect topic for a Twitter Tuesday to help all of us in the Sandwich Generation dealing with the many issues of caring for elderly parents. Particularly since it's not just an area of concern for our aging parents. It's important for us to watch for signs of dehydration in young grand children as well. 

Notice what Medline has to say about dehydration in the elderly AND in children

"Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Dehydration can be caused by losing too much fluid, not drinking enough water or fluids, or both. Vomiting and diarrhea are common causes.

Infants and children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because of their smaller body weights and higher turnover of water and electrolytes. The elderly and those with illnesses are also at higher risk.

Dehydration is classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on how much of the body's fluid is lost or not replenished. When severe, dehydration is a life-threatening emergency."

Having nursed my share of kids, grandkids, and senior parents, I definitely know to watch for it during a bout with a tummy bug or a severe sore throat. It's vital for us to keep tabs on them for this during the hot summer months as well. 

According to the CDC, "Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink water; the human body needs fluids on a regular basis. An adult should drink about two liters of water each day (that's about eight, 8-ounce glasses) to stay hydrated. In extreme temperatures, two to four 8-ounce glasses of fluid an hour will help keep you hydrated and decrease the risks for heat exhaustion or heat stroke."

Carrying refillable water bottles everywhere in the summer saves the Sandwich Generation headaches from dealing with the issues of dehydration in the elderly and young grand-children

I know that's an area I have to help my senior mom with – reminding her to drink more water more often. And it's not just drinking in general but what you drink as well. As the CDC puts it, "AVOID beverages with alcohol and drinks high in sugar since they don't fight dehydration and can make symptoms worse. Stay away from caffeinated and carbonated beverages when you feel thirsty. Sports drinks may be appropriate when you're physically active but remember that they have high levels of sugar, salt, and potassium."

Whenever we head out for the day, whether I have the grandkids, my senor mom, or even just myself, I always make sure to bring extra water with us. I routinely keep Nestle's Pure Life water bottles in the back of the car as a precaution. I also have several re-fillable water containers with big mouths so I can add ice as well as water. 

tennis activities for grandparents and their grandchildren are great fun all year long

All in all, this is good information for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, including those of us in the fighting-aging Baby Boomers Generation. If we stay on top of it so that it never becomes an issue, it's one less problem for us to have to deal with later. And that's especially important when we're involved in any of our favorite summer activities for grandparents and their grandchildren, such as a fun, hot and heavy game of tennis with the grandkids not to mention Bocce with the seniors. 🙂

Have you broken any bones lately? As a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for elderly parents and helping with grandkids, we also need to ask, have any of our aging parents broken any bones recently? That thought has been on my mind a lot the past two weeks since I have! As you may have read, I am recuperating from a 5th metatarsal fracture to my right foot. Interestingly enough, I discovered that this type of fracture is fairly common, so I don't think my age or bones necessarily play into that. 

Proper diet and exercise for women and men can help prevent osteoporosis which might help prevent another 5th metatarsal fracture

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, "Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet, which provide you with both support and movement." When you consider that you use your feet the most, it's actually a miracle we don't all break bones more often! 🙂

After doing a bit of research, I discovered a very useful government website, Medline Plus, published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, where you can find a wealth of wonderful information and links, all about osteoporosis including, natural osteoporosis treatment, exercises, diet, vitamins, etc. There they write:

"Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to break (hmmm, I guess that could include a 5th metatarsal fracture). Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is common in older women. As many as half of all women and a quarter of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Risk factors include:

  • Getting older (guess that includes all of us in the hate-to-admit-we-are-aging baby boomers generation, as well as our senior parents!)
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having osteopenia, which is low bone mass

Help fight osteoporosis by drinking orange juice fortified with vitamins and calcium

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health. To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercise and do not smoke. If needed, medicines can also help."

Hmmmm, guess those of us over 50 who break a bone should be asking our doctor about this possibility.  Be sure, if you do, to first check with your insurance company (or that of your senior parents 🙂 ). Some insurance policies do cover the test to see if you have Osteoporosis, which is great! 

Next week, I'll be writing more on this topic. And, as always, we'd love to hear your comments, ideas, and stories if y'all are dealing with osteoporosis for yourselves or your elderly parents, not to mention anyone keeping me company with broken bones. 🙂

exercise is vital for osteoporosis as well as to prevent osteoporosis

P.S. You'll note that exercise is included on that list. Osteoporosis exercises for older women (and men) should include weight-bearing exercisesSkeletal Fitness by Mirabai Holland is an informative osteoporosis prevention bone loading and strength training exercise DVD. As they put it, it's "a workout for bones." It sounds like an excellent resource, doesn't it? If you are interested in checking it out, just click here. 🙂 And if you or your senior parent prefers a written guide, here is one, Osteoporosis: An Exercise Guide. I'm ordering that as well, for my senior mom and myself. I'll be reviewing it for you in the next few weeks along with two others I've ordered so keep checking back. 🙂

YouTube is a great resource for many, including those of us in the Sandwich Generation who can use encouragement from praise and worship music, or fun Bible song additions to activities for grandparents and their grandchildren. It can also be an excellent source of laughter, going well with Proverbs 17:22, "A merry heart does good like medicine." Here are some fun videos to put a smile on the face of our senior parents, our grandchildren, and ourselves. 

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine Proverbs 17 22

The first two are performed by Hilton Griswold. I had never heard of Hilton Griswold before, but I've since discovered he's a very talented senior musician who really loves God! He used to sing for the Blackwood Brothers and for VCYAmerica. Here's an extra Sandwich Generation connection. I asked my mother-in-law if she had ever heard of any of them, as her mom was always involved in Gospel "sings." She wrote me, "The Blackwood Brothers were at one of the gospel song fests that used to be held near us every year. Your oldest daughter accompanied mom, a friend, and I to the last one held in our area." Very cool piece of family history, with three of our four generations attending that, I must say. 🙂

Here he is reciting a very cute poem most seniors can relate to – for that matter, I, as a member of the never-aging Baby Boomers Generation, can also relate to it – especially in regards to the senior discounts!

This is one the great-grandparents and your grandkids can enjoy together, the Senior version of "Jesus Loves Me."

And last, but not least, one of the Bill Gaither and Mark Lowry videos, featuring some of the Gaither singers with a Christian comedian I got to see in person with my mother-in-law. And believe me, that church building was laughing their heads off, from senior citizens on down to young grandkids! I played it for my oldest grandchild and her friend and they both enjoyed it, even if a few of the jokes were a bit over their heads. One caveat you need to know, Mark Lowry and Bill Gaither have a regular "routine" together. Reminds me a bit of the Smother's Brothers (that's the Baby Boomers Generation analogy. For the seniors – how about Abbot and Costello. 🙂 ). It's all in fun and all funny!

These were fun to find and fun to watch. I hope your Sandwich Generation family – from your elderly parents on down to your young grandkids – wlll enjoy them as well. 

P.S. If you'd like more humorous "medicine" for your Sandwich Generation family, check out and . They're sure to tickle your funny bones! 🙂